Psychological Self-Help

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The major unhealthy roles we tend to act out under stress and when angry are
(a) the blamer, critic, or hot head, (b) the withdrawn, independent, or emotionally
unreachable person, (c) the needy, "let's talk," or overly demanding partner, (d) the
incompetent, "sick," or disorganized one, and (e) the know-it-all, "I have no
problems; I'll handle yours" rescuer. Do you recognize yourself and the people you
have conflicts with? Try to avoid these roles. Start to change in small, carefully
planned ways using good assertiveness (chapter 13). Also, avoid talking to anyone
(beyond a brief factual consultation--no gossiping) about a third person who is
upsetting you; if your underlying purpose is really to recruit support for your side, it
may set up a triangle which is unhealthy. Deal directly with the person who is
bothering you; keep others out of it (unless you seek therapy). Of course, older
children or relatives can be told that you are having marital problems, if that is
needed, but don't ask them to take sides. 
Psychological abuse in intimate relationships
The recent large National Violence Against Women survey (Coker, A. L., 2002, in
American Journal of Preventive Medicine; See
(
females and 23% of 7,122 males had been physically, sexually or psychologically
abused by an intimate partner. Psychological abuse was more common than sexual
or physical abuse. All three forms of abuse are associated with the later development
of chronic physical and mental health problems. Good reason to take abuse
seriously. But exactly what is psychological abuse? It is hard to describe because the
same comment could be devastating to one person but might just seem funny or
insignificant to another target. How the denounced person responds is a crucial
factor. Whether or not a remark causes abuse isn’t determined by just the
criticalness of the words used by the would-be abuser, the degree of hurt or abuse is
determined by whether or not the person being addressed feels hurt, belittled, and
degraded by the comments.
How the target responds depends on the circumstances, how the critical comments
are said, the intended purpose and the personality of the abuser. and on the
resilience and psychological defenses of the target, etc., etc. To be psychologically
abusive the comments or acts have to be seen as hurtful and/or actually do harm. It
is important to have a good understanding of the intentions of the critic and the
reactions of the target to the psychological or emotional abuse.
Howard University psychologist, Linda Berg-Cross (2005), describes four types of
psychological abuse: (1) the most devastating comments are demeaning and
critical of a person’s personality, basic characteristics, and core values (“you are
really stupid” or “I don’t trust you”). These actions or intimidating remarks may be
subtle but they undermine one’s self-confidence and make one feel psychologically
weak or abnormal. (2) It can also be hurtful when an intimate partner withholds
support and praise when you most need it, e.g. after making a speech, your partner
points out a long list of mistakes you made. (3) A controlling partner sometimes
restricts who you can talk to, where you can go, what you can do, often they claim
that these restrictions are strictly for your own good. (4) Other ways a partner may
instill insecurity and self-doubts are to restrict your influence in decision-making,
to limit your access to money, to assign you jobs to do, to select your friends and
social activities, and to do anything that makes you feel inferior. These four kinds of
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